College Basketball Odds, Expert Picks & Prediction for St. John’s vs. Iowa State (Sunday, Dec. 4)

College Basketball Odds, Expert Picks & Prediction for St. John’s vs. Iowa State (Sunday, Dec. 4) article feature image

Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images. Pictured: Osun Osunniyi (Iowa State)

  • St. John's is undefeated, but now it has to travel to Ames to take on Iowa State in the Big East-Big 12 Battle on Sunday.
  • The Clones have an advantage in the backcourt because of how steady their guards are.
  • Will that lead to a win and a cover? Matt Cox breaks it all down.

St. John's vs. Iowa State Odds

Sunday, Dec. 4
3 p.m. ET
St. John's Odds
-110o / -110u
Iowa State Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Alas, the final leg of the coveted Big East-Big-12 Challenge. This marks the final game of the series between the two 10-team leagues.

Conference bragging rights are always nice, but they’re merely the subtext in this handicapping angle. Both teams are thirsty for at-large worthy wins to hang on their resume — that's what matters.

The November chapter is now a wrap, leaving little meat left on the remaining non-conference bone for these two to chew on. This simple dynamic likely negates any motivational spot edge, (lookahead, letdown, etc.). Thus, it’s fair to expect two highly-motivated, engaged teams squaring off in Ames, Iowa.

The Big East dominated the series in 2019, but the Big 12 leveled the playing field in 2020 and 2021. The Big 12 held a 4-3 lead going into Saturday, with all seven home teams prevailing and five of those seven covering the spread.

St. John's Red Storm

Schematically, the undefeated Johnnies will swarm Iowa State with unrelenting pressure all over the court. Iowa State is typically the aggressor in this domain, but few presses compare to Mike Anderson’s feverish full-court swarm.

Iowa State’s de-facto ball handlers — veteran Jaren Holmes and freshman Tamin Lipsey — have been sound this year, but the Red Storm present a daunting new challenge.

However, here’s the concern for the Johnnies: this is their first true bout against a heavyweight opponent this season.

And it just so happens to coincide with their first true road game of the season.

Consider the recent precedent of two fellow power-conference foes, Northwestern and Rutgers. Each inflated their analytical marks by consistently stomping inferior competition throughout the month of November.

But when it was time to step into the ring against a formidable challenger in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, they couldn’t deliver.

Pitt trounced Northwestern in Evanston, while Rutgers failed to cover against "The U" in Coral Gables (though, at least the Scarlet Knights were competitive).

Iowa State Cyclones

Look for the Cyclones to give St. John’s a dose of its own medicine. Iowa State’s backcourt is more measured and calculated, while the Johnnies’ speed-demon duo of Posh Alexander and Andre Curbelo are anything but "conservative." Granted, they take care of ball reasonably well.

Winning the turnover battle doesn’t need to be Iowa State’s sole focus on the defensive end of the floor. It's important the Clones bait the Johnnies into quick, forced shots in isolation, an area in which ISU excels.

Up front, the Clones’ frontline posts are manned by two shot-swatting studs in Osun Osunniyi and Hason Ward. They’re known for their rim protection, but rebounding will be a top priority against St. John’s brigade of rim crashers.

"Shoon" and Ward must also keep burgeoning big man Joel Soriano in check, as the former Fordham big has become a key offensive outlet for St. John’s.

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St. John's vs. Iowa State Betting Pick

Matchup wise, it’s tough to extrapolate a strong edge either way — schematic angles are never a guarantee in handicapping as is. But given how well home court has played in these inter-conference series' this year, catching the Cyclones as a short favorite feels like a discount.

Iowa State at -5 or less is a bargain. That implies the market sees these two as near equals.

That’s a notion I fundamentally reject.

Pick: Iowa State -4.5

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